Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with Anchovy Salad Cream

Serves: 4

A few years ago – actually six by my count (!) – Nat and I did a Hobart (Australia) holiday.

It is a quiet city, though it is just lovely. Good food, quiet as I said, unassuming, a very organic feel to it. Shops closed on Sunday (bless), cold, as close to the Antarctic as one can reasonably get without driving to the bottom of the island.

The sometimes forgotten state of mainland Australia. (Though one of my brothers lives there, so slightly less forgotten!)

When we were there, we travelled an hour from Hobart to a a farm run by Rodney Dunn of the Agrarian Kitchen, which at least at the time, was the number one destination for foodies in Australia.

What a brilliant afternoon. We foraged in his garden and collected everything we needed to cook. He had a greenhouse with some of the more tropical ingredients, and animals further afield that were also part of the meal we cooked.

I’ve gone from a man making signature vinaigrette’s to this as my go-to. (It’s a Caesar just easier. And frankly better. )

I think wheat was the only thing – used in a dough for ravioli – that came offsite.

Anyway, the guy is a genius and so is this salad.

You will think so to.

Ingredients

100gm mixed baby salad greens
1 radicchio, washed, dried and coarsely torn
1 frisée, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch chives cut into 2cm lengths

Anchovy salad cream

6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. For anchovy salad cream, pound anchovies to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle. Stir in remaining ingredients, season with freshly ground pepper and set aside.
  2. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with salad cream, toss to evenly coat leaves and…
  3. Enjoy!

Neil Perry’s Chocolate Cake

Serves: 10

This is the second time I have had this cake and it is brilliant.

Neil Perry says it is his favourite which is not hard to understand.

It is not only fantastically simple, it is like a soufflé. An incredible chocolate soufflé.

And it will easily last a day so you can cook it the night ahead like Nat did.

A sophisticated dinner party, hard not to go past this.

Ingredients

400gm good quality dark chocolate, broken up
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Cointreau
300ml pure (whipping) cream, plus extra whipped to serve
Icing sugar to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175c. Cut a piece of grease proof paper to fit a 20cm round cake tin, with double layer for the side and a singlet layer for the bottom. Spray the tin with cooking oil and fit the greaseproof paper in snuggle.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water. (Don’t scald the chocolate by allowing the water to boil.) Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to return to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and 2/3 of the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the Cointreau and continue to beat until well combined. Add the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until completely incorporated, then slowly stir in half the cream. Set aside.
  4. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Start whisking the egg whites in a very clean bowl. When soft peaks start to form, slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until very firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Finally, fold in the whipped egg whites.
  5. Pour into the cake tin, put the tin in a bain-marie or on a baking tray and add enough hot water to come about 2.5cm up the outside of the tin. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven down to 150c and bake for another 45 mins. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for another 20 minutes. Cut around the edge of the tin, turn it over onto a plate and the cake should slide out easily.
  7. Cut slices using as knife dipped in hot water and clean the knife after each cut. (Place on white plates.) Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with lightly whipped cream.

Coffee Ice Cream

Makes: 5 cups

We had an Italian-themed dinner last weekend with some of Nat’s friends.

And how can it not end well with homemade coffee ice cream and a shot of Lemoncello?

Answer is, it can’t.

Like most ice creams, it starts with a great custard with the addition of coffee: instant coffee.

Trust me, instant is the way to go.

Into the ice cream machine, a few more glasses of red among friends, various promises that we should all go on holiday to Mexico and boom… you’re serving up cream, coffee ice cream.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups caster sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant coffee granules
6 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan over a medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, salt and coffee granules, stirring occasionally until steaming. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour half the hot milk into the eggs whilst whisking continuously. Return mixture to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, allowing it to touch the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until cold.
  4. When ready, whisk the cream and vanilla into the custard until smooth. Churn in your ice cream maker.
  5. Enjoy. With a Lemoncello.

Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake

Serves: 8

I haven’t watched much Nigella, though the impression I get from the snippets I have seen is that when it comes to desserts, Nigella is all in.

Melted chocolate being poured into more chocolate, whipped cream being folded into egg yolks, zoom in, zoom out, chocolate.

This cake therefore perfectly embodies Nigella and it really couldn’t be any easier a dessert, qualified for a dinner party.

Cook the base in the afternoon, whip the cream and refrigerate and prep just when you’re ready to serve.

Ingredients

250gm dark chocolate
125gm unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
175gm caster sugar
500ml cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and butter and line a 23cm springform pan with paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and stir through the butter until it melts.
  3. Beat the two whole eggs and 4 yolks with 75gm of the caster sugar and then gradually add the chocolate mixture.
  4. Beat the 4 egg whites until foamy and then gradually add the remaining 100gm of sugar and continue beating until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff.
  5. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake has risen and cracked and the top is no longer wobbly.
  6. Beat the cream until soft and then add rather vanilla and continue beating until the cream is firm but not stiff.
  7. Fill the crater of the cake with the cream and then dust the top with cocoa powder.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken Veloute Stew

Serves: 4

I am a big fan of Adam Liaw.

Since Masterchef fame, he has stepped it up big-time.

His Twitter account is very funny, he writes recipes for Fairfax Media and others, he travels extensively to cook and he serves up some really good dishes.

His food is obtainable and he writes ordinarily (in a good way) about it so that mugs like us can really feel his sentiment towards it… and the background to it.

This recipe is a really comfortable one and you only need to glance down the ingredients to know why.

You keep layering the vegetables and in the end, you have a whole dinner, starting with your chicken and ending with your broccoli and beans.

It is a Sunday-night sort of thing and with a bottle of red, some music and the lights down, it really is a great way to end the weekend.

Nat and I speak from experience!

(Note: the original recipe called for chicken wings… we are a breast and thigh family only, so I have updated the instructions below to reflect how we did it. Plus a few small changes to how the vegetables were prepped.)

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs, sliced
100gm butter
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
4 thick rasher bacon, cut into lardons
1 brown onion, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 liters chicken stocks
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 small cabbage, roughly shredded
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 head broccoli, separated into florets
Handful of green beans, tailed
100ml pouring cream

Method

  1. Heat a little of the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-heat. Fry the chicken thighs until well browned though not yet cooked through; set aside. In the same saucepan, fry the mushrooms until well browned and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon and fry until browned, then add the onion and remaining butter and cook until the onions soften.
  3. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until a roux forms. Add the wine and chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly to remove any lumps from the roux until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and (white) pepper. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cabbage and carrots, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced chicken thighs to one section of the pot. Add the mushrooms to another section. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the broccoli and beans in their own sections. Simmer for a further minute and then taste and adjust for seasoning.
  5. Pour the cream over the stew and serve.

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushroom (Pink Sauce)

Serves: 4

We live in Cammeray in Sydney and there has been this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint here since I was a kid catching the school-bus past many, many years ago.

Brick facade, large pizza-oven style window out the front, dark inside.

Until we moved to Cammeray, I had never been into the pizza place though I had always wanted to. Old-school pizza places are the best.

Our first meal there was memorable and for all the right reasons.

And it turns out that the place has been there since I was a kid, run by this Italian who cooked pizzas every night for 40 years or something.

Sadly, he passed away a year ago, though he left the restaurant to his nephew, who, when we arrived, was still finding his feet: cash only, several items on the menu not available, the poor guy cooking and serving and cleaning up.

But wow, his pizza and homemade pasta was just awesome.

And $50 with no corkage.

A real win.

Half-a-dozen visits since and he has found his feet, though the important elements remain. A dark, cosy, pizza restaurant with locals handing over cash for excellent pizzas. There is a second guy in the kitchen and a young girl taking orders and delivering the pasta.

We have mixed it up every time we have been there and last time we had a pasta similar to this one; mushroom spaghetti in a pink sauce: essentially half cream, half tomato.

I didn’t ask for the recipe though I found this one online and it is pretty much on the money.

Ensure you cook the alcohol off and you are left with a really wonderful dinner: pretty much what you would expect from a local, 40-year-old pizza joint that only cooks 6 pizzas and a rotation of the same number of pastas.

Do this some Saturday night and put your feet up.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomatoes (400gm)
¾ cup vodka
½ tsp chilli flakes
Handful fresh basil, torn
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cream
¾ tsp salt
500gm penne (we used spaghetti)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then add the onion and garlic and slowly saute until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, vodka, chilli flakes, basil and oregano. Break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  2. Bring the mixture to a medium-heat and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and salt and continue to simmer ensuring that the alcohol is cooked out. Season.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Mix through and season again if necessary.
  5. Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

The Boathouse Snapper Pie

Makes: 5

Pre-Preamble: we served this pie as course #4 of #6 at our long lunch/wedding. It is one of our favourite dishes and the restaurant – The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay – is where I asked Nat to marry me.

(She gave me a tentative yes though told me to ask a year later for the full affirmative, something I duly did.)

Anyway, so as not to cause confusion, when we first typed this recipe up, we did it as a tribute to our wonderful friends Leesh and Josh for their wedding. Here is the handsome couple at our long lunch/wedding (which was also coincidentally Leesh’s birthday):

The preamble below is what we originally wrote to them and obviously we can’t remove it!

Preamble: We are typing up this recipe as part of a tribute to our awesome friends Leesh and Josh who are getting married – at last – this weekend. Being awesome means they are awesome on the food front: cooking, eating, discussing and pairing wines with.

Here is to many meals in the future guys. We are proud to be your friends.

Enjoy the copper and cooking this pie one rainy Saturday. Keep the champagne near.

Love

Nat and Rob

The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay is one of our favourite restaurants.

It means a slow and incredibly comfortable afternoon of great food, wine, cheese, conversation, laughter and watching the boats slowly drift by. There really are fewer, better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, anyone in the know about this wonderful institution would know that the signature dish on the menu is the Snapper Pie.

And lordy, what a pie it is.

The richness of the pie. The smell, the warmth. The whole bloody thing.

And the smoky tomato? Yes please.

(Here is how Nat produced the tomatoes for our wedding: baby tomatoes, brined overnight, smoking essence and balsamic, seasoned and roasted:)

Not to speak of the obvious outcome of the Paris mash.

Anyway, we cooked this – for the second time – a few weekends ago and holy smoking duck balls it was fine. Smiles, gasps, awe.

Every hour of sweating onions paid off!

Take off the afternoon and make this.

It is pure joy.

Ingredients

800gm pink snapper fillet, cut into 3cm pieces (you can get from the Fish Markets)
5 dessert spoonfuls of white truffle oil
Puff pastry
1.2kg sliced onions
800mls cream
400mls fish stock
300gm diced onion
Olive oil
Salt
1 egg beaten with a little water
4 tomatoes, peeled, halved and seeded
80gm long grain rice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Paris mash to serve

Method

  1. Sweat the sliced onion is a little olive oil and salt and cook as slowly as you can until the onions are light golden.
  2. Add the fish stock and slowly reduce by half. Add the cream and slowly reduce by half or until you have a thick, creamy consistency and remove from the heat.
  3. In a separate pan, sweat the diced onion with a little olive oil and salt and cook slowly until light golden. Add to the sliced onions and check the seasoning.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250c.
  5. Spoon some of the sauce into 5 deep pie dishes, lay over the fish, cover with the remainder of the sauce and add one dessertspoon of truffle oil to each dish.
  6. Roll out the pastry, lay over the dishes, press down and trim at the edges and egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  7. For the smoked tomatoes, line a wok with foil, place the rice in the base, place a wire rack over and heat the wok until the rice starts to smoke.
  8. Place the tomatoes cut side up on the rack, combine the garlic and balsamic and brush the tomatoes. Cover with foil and cook for 3 minutes until heated through and smoked.
  9. Allow the pie to rest for a few minutes before serving with the tomatoes and the Paris mash.

Pecan Torte

Pecan Torte

Serves: 6

She might not be happy with the inclusion of this recipe, though there are a few of them that define my mother and her cooking talents… and none comes more to mind that this torte.

Nobody that has ever had it, has thought anything differently: it is genius.

Every time I have it – and I have had it probably 600 times – I literally gasp at how bloody wonderful it is. It is literally genius.

The origin of the recipe  – according to my mother – is Mexican and my grandmother found it whilst she lived it LA many years back.

Don’t be confused.

Some freshly whipped cream, some fresh strawberries, this is the least contentious, most no-questions, shit-yeah dessert I think you can make.

I vouch my cooking heart on it.

P.S. This was course #5 of #6 at our Long Lunch/Wedding. It was called ‘Mexican Wall’.

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
16 Sao biscuits
Whipped cream
Strawberries

Method

  1. Beat the egg whites with the baking powder until stiff.
  2. Beat in the sugar gradually, and continue to beat.
  3. Fold in the pecans, vanilla and Sao crumbs.
  4. Bake in a large buttered springform pan at 190 C for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.
  5. Two hours before serving spread with the whipped cream and chill.
  6. Garnish with strawberries before serving.

Steak au Poivre Vert

Serves: 4

“I think I’ll pass on the steak with French sauce” said no one ever.

And it’s true!

Home on Friday night after a few days away and hours and hours of driving, Nat absolutely nailed it.

It was warm, the sun was setting and there is champagne on ice, a wonderful baked brie as a starter and the promise of steak with a French sauce, twice-cooked crispy potatoes and pear, parmesan and rocket salad.

What more could anyone want?!

This recipe is classic French bistro and with the crunchy, golden, baby potatoes (if you haven’t invested in an air fryer, make haste), it was as good as you could expect from a French restaurant.

Surprise someone with this dinner and favours will be owed!

Ingredients

5 eye fillet steaks
3 tbsp green peppercorns
1 – 2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brand
2 tbsp dry vermouth or white wine
125ml cream
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Press some peppercorns into both sides of the steaks. Cook the steaks quickly in the butter over high heat.
  2. Flame the steaks with the brandy and remove; set aside to rest. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth or wine.
  3. Crush the remaining peppercorns into the cream Add to the pan and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

Dijon Cream

Chicken, seafood or even an eye fillet, Dijon Cream is easy and makes it seem like you have made a bit more effort than just, well, an eye fillet.

Ingredients

2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 – 4 tbsp thickened cream
Salt and pepper

Method

  • Combine.
  • Enjoy.